Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


older | 1 | .... | 53 | 54 | (Page 55) | 56 | 57 | .... | 165 | newer

    0 0

    A well-connected Texas lobbyist is the nation's newest hybrid super PAC treasurer.

    Randy Cubriel, an attorney who practices law in both North Carolina and Texas, where he is also a registered lobbyist, has formed "Texans for a Conservative Majority," according to new documents posted by the Federal Election Commission.

    Because the Austin, Texas-based committee registered as a hybrid super PAC, it may raise donations of unlimited size to fund political advertisements — like a super PAC — and also maintain a separate, segregated account for raising limited contributions that may, in turn, be donated directly to politicians.

    Records indicate that Cubriel's lobbying clients currently include Texas Port Recycling LP, which is "home to the largest shredder in Southeast Texas," according to the company's website, and Charlotte-based Nucor Corp., a Fortune 300 company and the country's largest steel producer.

    Despite his committee's right-leaning name, Cubriel is bipartisan when it comes to political giving, according to state and federal campaign finance records.

    At the federal level, Cubriel, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has donated small amounts to both Republicans and Democrats, including $250 to Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., in 2008; $250 to then-House candidate Debbie Halvorson, an Illinois Democrat, in 2008; $600 to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in 2008; and $250 to Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, in 2011.

    At the state level, recent political contributions by Cubriel include $250 to North Carolina Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Walter Dalton in 2008 and $250 to South Carolina Republican state Sen. Hugh Leatherman the same year, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

     

     

    Image by Ray Bodden Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12257/lone-star-lobbyist-launches-hybrid-super-pac

    0 0

    The House of Representatives passed federal legislation aimed at combating campus sexual violence on Thursday, including it in a bipartisan renewal of the Violence Against Women Act following months of congressional gridlock. The Senate has already approved the measure, which means passage is virtually assured; President Barack Obama could sign it into law as early as next week.

    In a vote of 286 to 138, House members approved a reauthorization of VAWA that incorporates, as Section 304, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, known as Campus SaVE. The final tally came after lawmakers had defeated a Republican-backed amendment that would have omitted the act’s language from VAWA altogether.

    Campus SaVE is meant to address problems highlighted in an investigation of campus sexual assault by the Center for Public Integrity. Published in a six-part series starting in 2009, “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice”— done in collaboration with National Public Radio — showed that campus judicial proceedings regarding allegations of sexual assault were often confusing, shrouded in secrecy, and marked by lengthy delays. Those who reported sexual assaults encountered a litany of institutional barriers that either assured their silence or left them feeling victimized again. Even students found “responsible” for alleged sexual assaults often faced little punishment, while their victims’ lives frequently turned upside down.

    “The victims’ rights components [of Campus SaVE] were designed around the gaps identified by the Center for Public Integrity’s report,” said Daniel Carter, a long-time victims’ advocate now with the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, who helped draft the original bill. “This would not have been possible without that series.”

    The legislation, first filed in the fall of 2010, will expand required campus education programs to include prevention awareness and bystander intervention strategies for students, meant to stop sexual assaults from occurring. The measure aims to improve victim protections by guaranteeing counseling, legal assistance, and medical care on campus, among other accommodations. It also will establish minimum, national standards for all schools to follow in responding to allegations of sexual assault and sexual violence. For instance, the act makes explicit that schools must afford both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim the same rights — access to advisers, written notifications, as well as appeals processes — during campus disciplinary proceedings.

    The VAWA reauthorization passed the Senate on February 12, in a 78 to 22 vote. Following the House action, President Obama said in a statement that the VAWA represents “an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear.”  The president said he “look[s] forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”

    Campus SaVE will technically take effect one year after the president signs the VAWA reauthorization, but as a practical matter, its effects will first be felt at the start of the 2014-15 school year, when colleges and universities have to release their annual campus-crime reports.

    Victim advocates, who have pressed for Campus SaVE’s passage for months, say they are stunned — and delighted — by the sudden passage of the Violence Against Women Act, following weeks of legislative stalemate. Many of them were walking the halls of Capitol Hill earlier this week, talking with anybody who would listen about the bill’s virtues. On Tuesday, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, re-introduced Campus SaVE on the House side. That same day, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a press conference about the Senate version of the VAWA reauthorization, urging House members pass that legislation in its existing form —and that’s what happened.

    Laura Dunn, whose case was featured in the Center series, spoke at the Pelosi event about her experiences in 2005, detailing how her allegations of rape by a crew member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison took the university nine months to investigate, before deciding against filing disciplinary charges against her alleged attacker. “I requested House members please pass VAWA,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen in a couple days.”

    Dunn and other advocates say Campus SaVE will improve the lives of student victims, providing a smoother process for them to report allegations and to appeal. They applaud its requirements for schools to publicly disclose incidents of sexual assault on campus, as well as to publish policies on sexual assault. The legislation will also codify some crucial components of the Education Department’s first-ever federal guidance on how schools must respond to student complaints of campus rape, issued in April 2011.

    “This gives me a lot of hope things will change,” Dunn adds.

    Lawmakers also hailed its passage. In a brief statement, Maloney, the bill’s House sponsor, said, the legislation “will help students, administrators and the public.” She noted that college administrators will now benefit from guidance on best practices from the departments of Justice and Education, while the public will benefit from the disclosure of incidents of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence on college campuses.

    Her Senate counterpart, Pennsylvania Democrat Robert Casey, Jr., said Campus SaVE will help “ensure that college campuses are safe and secure places to learn and work.”

    The measure’s passage comes just one month after news that current and former students at the University of North Carolina have urged the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate the university. The group, including Melinda Manning — the school’s former assistant dean of students and an alum — filed a complaint with the civil-rights office in January, alleging the university has violated the rights of assault victims and created a “hostile environment” for them on campus. The complaint also accuses officials of pressuring Manning to under-report sexual assault cases. One of the students, Landen Gambill, whose allegations of rape by another student were dismissed by a student-run judicial board last year, now faces disciplinary charges herself for speaking out about her case.

    The UNC case has quickly made headlines, prompting the school to create a website,“Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault,” where it has posted its policies on the topic. In response to the 2011 federal guidance, the university has rewritten its procedures for campus rape probes since Gambill’s case last year. Today, it no longer allows its student-run disciplinary board to decide such allegations.

    In a statement, the university denied the current disciplinary charges against Gambill represent any retaliation for filing the civil-rights complaint. The school, it said, has never tried to discipline a student for reporting sexual violence.

    “This University works hard to encourage students to come forward and report instances of sexual violence,” the school said. “We are committed to eliminating sexual assault and violence from our community.”

    “We need to recognize there is quite a large battle ahead,” said Dunn, referring to the UNC case. “But this is a great first step, and we should take a moment to celebrate it.”

    Kristen Lombardihttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/kristen-lombardihttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12259/campus-sexual-violence-elimination-act-headed-presidents-signature

    0 0

    Catholics have no pope. But American Catholics still have their own super PAC.

    While the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops serves as the main public policy arm of the Catholic hierachy, a lay-led group of believers launched the CatholicVote.org Candidate Fund in March 2011. It is affiliated with CatholicVote.org, a Chicago-based nonprofit formerly known as Fidelis.

    The super PAC raised $476,000 during the 2012 election cycle, according to federal campaign finance records.

    It made about $293,000 worth of independent expenditures, mostly on ads and materials that either supported Republican Mitt Romney's failed presidential run or criticized President Barack Obama.

    It also spent modest sums aiding the unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Connie Mack of Florida and Tom Smith of Pennsylvania. All are Republicans.

    The bullk of the money the super PAC raised — $200,000 — came from Michigan businessman John C. Kennedy, the founder, president and chief executive officer of two companies based in Kentwood, Mich., Autocam and Autocam Medical.

    Last year, Kennedy sued the U.S. government over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare, because he believed the law would violate his religious beliefs by requiring that the health insurance he offered his employees cover abortions, sterilization and birth control.

    CatholicVote.org also operates a traditional political action committee, which was mostly idle during the 2012 election cycle. This committee, which may make direct contributions to candidates, raised just $700 during that period.

    But ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, the PAC raised about $28,000 and doled out $15,500 to federal candidates, with 87 percent of that money aiding Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    The goal of CatholicVote.org's PAC is to "provide qualified candidates with direct financial support while working independently to mobilize voters to elect candidates whom we believe will be faithful stewards of Catholic social teaching and the common good," according to the organization's website.

    Last year, CatholicVote.org — which is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a social welfare organization under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code — also provided $71,250 in in-kind support to the super PAC in the form of its email list. That ranked the nonprofit as the No. 2 donor to the super PAC behind Kennedy.

    CatholicVote.org was launched in 2008 as a way to “organize, coordinate and mobilize grassroots civic action for Catholics and all people of good will to defend life, faith and family,” according to documents it has filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

    In 2011, the group raised about $1.4 million and its 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm raised about $1.1 million, according to the most recent annual reports filed with the IRS.

    The nonprofit is currently offering donors a special gift online: a free copy of now-former Pope Benedict XVI's book, which the group touts as "perfect for Lent" on its website.

     

     

    Pope Benedict XVI arrives for his weekly general audience at the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12252/super-pac-caters-catholics

    0 0

    With a clock ticking down to zero hour on the budget sequester this past week, the big contractors building the Pentagon’s over-budget, under-performing, and designed-on-the-fly F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weren’t finding much warmth in either the northern or southern hemisphere.

    But they managed to get a check from the Pentagon anyway.

    The funds arrived a few days after a rhetorical shot heard halfway around the world, fired by Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the newly-installed chief of the Pentagon’s  F-35 advanced warplane program.

    He complained to reporters in Australia that the plane’s builders were trying to “squeeze every nickel” out of their deal with the U.S. government rather than worry about the long-term health of the trillion-dollar fighter-bomber program, the priciest weapons project in U.S. history.

    The outspoken general, a former test pilot, added: “I want them to start behaving like they want to be around for 40 years. I want them to take on some of the risk of this program, I want them to invest in cost reductions, I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I’m not getting all that love yet.”

    Hours later, in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain read a news report of Bodgan’s remarks aloud to Alan Estevez, President Obama’s nominee for the post of principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

    As Time’s Mark Thompson pointed out in his blog Friday, McCain doggedly demanded to know why in the face of what he called “massive failures, massive cost overruns,” Lockheed had managed to earn a 7 percent profit since the program began in 2001.

    Estevez demurred. “I can’t address the past.”

    McCain sounded dumbfounded.

    “You can’t address the past?”

    “I can’t address, you know, what happened from 2001 till where I am today.”

    McCain bore in on him. “You can’t—you can’t address that at all?”

    Estevez replied that Bogdan was working closely with the plane’s lead contractors -- Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney -- “to work through the problems.”

    “So since 2001 – and we’re in 2013 – we are beginning to sort through the problem. Is that – is that – is that what I can tell my constituents, Mr. Secretary?”

    McCain, who once called the F-35 both a scandal and a tragedy, told Estevez he was frustrated. “This committee has been tracking this program for many years,” he said. “We’ve had promise after promise. We’ve had commitment after commitment. And yet the only thing that has remained constant is that Lockheed has earned a 7 percent profit since the program began…”

    Hours before sequestration was scheduled to kick in Friday, the Pentagon nonetheless announced it had awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for $334 million to buy parts for the latest batch of F-35s. The money will be used to build 29 of the jets.

    In a statement Thursday responding to Bogdan’s comments Lockheed Martin said “we strive daily to drive costs out of the program.” The statement said Lockheed has worked with Bogdan and the Air Force to cut costs by, among other things, reducing the price per aircraft by 50 percent since the purchase of the first plane and lowering labor costs for the most recent batch of warplanes by 14 percent.

    Australia has plans to buy 100 F-35s to serve as the backbone of its air defenses, and Bogdan was there to try to keep the deal on track. Selling the plane to foreign countries is critical to lowering its cost from the current $120 million to $90 million by the end of the year, Pentagon officials have said.

    Pierre Sprey, a systems analyfighter aircraft, was skeptical of Bogdan’s promise to lower costs. “His contention that the price will come down is simply false,” he told the Center for Public Integrity. “It’s going to overrun a lot more.”

    Sprey, a prominent critic of the F-35 program, was one of the “whiz kids” Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara brought to the Pentagon in 1966. He was a key figure in the development of the F-16, F/A-18 Horney and A-10 “Warthog” ground support aircraft

    Sprey predicted that the F-35’s nagging performance problems would persist as the test program becomes more rigorous.” All the toughest testing is still ahead,” he said. “They’ve put off all that tough stuff for obvious reasons because it’s having trouble with all the easy stuff.”

    Bogdan’s visit to Australia followed the recent airing of a highly critical documentary by the government-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation called “Reach for the Sky.”

    The documentary detailed the plane’s escalating cost, development delays and myriad problems, including the troublesome software that operates its computerized controls. Because of fears the fuel tank could explode if hit by lightning, the film notes, pilots are not allowed to fly the plane within 25 miles of a thunderstorm.

    “That’s true,” Bogdan admits. “But let’s put the context on – on that scenario. I have airplanes in the field that we know should not be flying around lightning. Will this problem occur in the future? No, because we have the known fixes for it and we will fix it. But today, you’re absolutely right, the airplane cannot fly in lightning. Um, in the future will it be able to? Absolutely.”

    Orlando Carvalho, general manager of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin, told the filmmakers that “lightning protection is good example of the type of normal discovery that you’re going to find as you execute a test and development program.”

    As he has many times previously, Bogdan told the broadcaster that many of the plane’s troubles are due to the decision to build and test it before it was fully designed.

    “A large amount of concurrency – i.e. beginning in production long before your design is stable and long before you’ve found problems in test -- creates downstream issues where now you have to go back and retrofit airplanes and make sure that the production line has those fixes in them,” he says. “And that drives complexity and cost.”

    The latest snafu occurred on Feb. 21, when a crack slightly longer than a half-inch was found in the turbine blade of a test F-35 based at Edwards Air Force Base in California, forcing a grounding of the entire fleet while other planes were examined. By late yesterday, no other cracks were found and the suspension was lifted.

    Kyra Hawn of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office said that the crack occurred in one of the first of the 17 test jets delivered that was used for the “rigorous testing of the (aircraft’s) operational envelope” – flown at high speeds and subjected to steep dives and sharp turns. It was also one of the planes with the highest number of flight hours, she said.

    According to a joint statement from the Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney, an examination showed the blade cracked due to exposure to “high levels of heat and other operational stressors on this specific engine” and that no engine redesign is required.

    F-35Douglas Birchhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/douglas-birchhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12262/pentagon-criticizes-f35-contractors-hands-over-dough

    0 0

    Congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch — she of the same parentage as comedian Stephen Colbert — is trekking to Capitol Hill next week for a campaign fundraiser featuring top Democrats, according to a invitation obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

    Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., will host the event from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, for which the minimum individual donation is $250. Political action committees are asked to give either $2,500 or $5,000, earning them status as either a "sponsor" or a "host" of the event.

    Colbert Busch has already received a boost from her famous super PAC-loving sibling, who's stumpedforher in recent days as she persues the Democratic nomination in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District special election. The primary is March 19.

    The special election was prompted by the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who's now leading the Heritage Foundation, as state Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., to fill the vacant Senate seat. Scott's seat, in turn, was then left open.

    If Colbert Busch wins her primary, she’ll likely face tough Republican competition: Former Gov. Mark Sanford and Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner, lead a packed GOP primary field.

     

     

    Elizabeth Colbert Busch answers questions from reporters in Charleston, S.C., on Monday Feb. 11, 2013, after she was endorsed by Democratic rival Martin Skelly for an open South Carolina congressional seat. The sister of comedian Stephen Colbert is now one of two Democrats seeking the seat. There are 16 Republicans running including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Teddy Turner, the son of media magnate Ted Turner.Dave Levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/dave-levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12263/colbert-busch-brings-fundraising-show-dc

    0 0

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday that he will likely appoint an emergency financial manager in an effort to solve Detroit’s decades-long financial woes.

    A state-appointed review board declared “financial emergency” in Detroit on Feb. 19, paving the way for Snyder’s announcement.

    The move comes only four months after Michigan voters repealed Public Act 4, known as Snyder’s “emergency manager” law, which had given the governor vast powers over city government.

    When voters repealed Public Act 4 in November, it appeared that Detroit would avoid a financial manager. The Center for Public Integrity chronicled the roots of the law and its effects on residents in Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, the Detroit Public Schools and elsewhere.

    But Snyder’s Republican administration fought back following the referendum.

    The governor’s attorney general first released a legal opinion stating that an earlier emergency manager law passed in 1990 would replace the repealed law, preserving many of the same powers for the state government.

    Then Snyder signed a replacement law, Public Act 436, in December’s lame duck legislative session. That new law, which also preserves many of the powers of Snyder’s 2011 law, is set to take effect March 28.

    While Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he will "respect" Snyder's decision, some members of City Council expressed opposition on Friday, urging the governor to continue working under a consent agreement forged in April between the state and city.

    The governor had used the financial emrgency law to appoint managers in several cities and school districts since 2011. Managers have been given extensive powers to fire city council and the mayor, privatize city services, sell public assets, and break union contracts with public employees.

    Opponents have launched lawsuits as well as a union-led effort to put the law up for referendum.

     

     

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate in Lansing.Paul Abowdhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/paul-abowdhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12265/detroit-faces-emergency-takeover-despite-voter-disapproval

    0 0

    With a clock ticking down to zero hour on the budget sequester this past week, the big contractors building the Pentagon’s over-budget, under-performing, and designed-on-the-fly F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weren’t finding much warmth in either the northern or southern hemisphere.

    But they managed to get a check from the Pentagon anyway.

    The funds arrived a few days after a rhetorical shot heard halfway around the world, fired by Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the newly-installed chief of the Pentagon’s  F-35 advanced warplane program.

    He complained to reporters in Australia that the plane’s builders were trying to “squeeze every nickel” out of their deal with the U.S. government rather than worry about the long-term health of the trillion-dollar fighter-bomber program, the priciest weapons project in U.S. history.

    The outspoken general, a former test pilot, added: “I want them to start behaving like they want to be around for 40 years. I want them to take on some of the risk of this program, I want them to invest in cost reductions, I want them to do the things that will build a better relationship. I’m not getting all that love yet.”

    Hours later, in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain read a news report of Bodgan’s remarks aloud to Alan Estevez, President Obama’s nominee for the post of principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

    As Time’s Mark Thompson pointed out in his blog Friday, McCain doggedly demanded to know why in the face of what he called “massive failures, massive cost overruns,” Lockheed had managed to earn a 7 percent profit since the program began in 2001.

    Estevez demurred. “I can’t address the past.”

    McCain sounded dumbfounded.

    “You can’t address the past?”

    “I can’t address, you know, what happened from 2001 till where I am today.”

    McCain bore in on him. “You can’t — you can’t address that at all?”

    Estevez replied that Bogdan was working closely with the plane’s lead contractors — Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney — “to work through the problems.”

    “So since 2001 — and we’re in 2013 — we are beginning to sort through the problem. Is that — is that — is that what I can tell my constituents, Mr. Secretary?”

    McCain, who once called the F-35 both a scandal and a tragedy, told Estevez he was frustrated. “This committee has been tracking this program for many years,” he said. “We’ve had promise after promise. We’ve had commitment after commitment. And yet the only thing that has remained constant is that Lockheed has earned a 7 percent profit since the program began…”

    Hours before sequestration was scheduled to kick in Friday, the Pentagon nonetheless announced it had awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for $334 million to buy parts for the latest batch of F-35s. The money will be used to build 29 of the jets.

    In a statement Thursday responding to Bogdan’s comments Lockheed Martin said “we strive daily to drive costs out of the program.” The statement said Lockheed has worked with Bogdan and the Air Force to cut costs by, among other things, reducing the price per aircraft by 50 percent since the purchase of the first plane and lowering labor costs for the most recent batch of warplanes by 14 percent.

    Australia has plans to buy 100 F-35s to serve as the backbone of its air defenses, and Bogdan was there to try to keep the deal on track. Selling the plane to foreign countries is critical to lowering its cost from the current $120 million to $90 million by the end of the year, Pentagon officials have said.

    Pierre Sprey, a systems analyfighter aircraft, was skeptical of Bogdan’s promise to lower costs. “His contention that the price will come down is simply false,” he told the Center for Public Integrity. “It’s going to overrun a lot more.”

    Sprey, a prominent critic of the F-35 program, was one of the “whiz kids” Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara brought to the Pentagon in 1966. He was a key figure in the development of the F-16, F/A-18 Horney and A-10 “Warthog” ground support aircraft

    Sprey predicted that the F-35’s nagging performance problems would persist as the test program becomes more rigorous.” All the toughest testing is still ahead,” he said. “They’ve put off all that tough stuff for obvious reasons because it’s having trouble with all the easy stuff.”

    Bogdan’s visit to Australia followed the recent airing of a highly critical documentary by the government-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation called “Reach for the Sky.”

    The documentary detailed the plane’s escalating cost, development delays and myriad problems, including the troublesome software that operates its computerized controls. Because of fears the fuel tank could explode if hit by lightning, the film notes, pilots are not allowed to fly the plane within 25 miles of a thunderstorm.

    “That’s true,” Bogdan admits. “But let’s put the context on — on that scenario. I have airplanes in the field that we know should not be flying around lightning. Will this problem occur in the future? No, because we have the known fixes for it and we will fix it. But today, you’re absolutely right, the airplane cannot fly in lightning. Um, in the future will it be able to? Absolutely.”

    Orlando Carvalho, general manager of the F-35 program at Lockheed Martin, told the filmmakers that “lightning protection is good example of the type of normal discovery that you’re going to find as you execute a test and development program.”

    As he has many times previously, Bogdan told the broadcaster that many of the plane’s troubles are due to the decision to build and test it before it was fully designed.

    “A large amount of concurrency — i.e. beginning in production long before your design is stable and long before you’ve found problems in test — creates downstream issues where now you have to go back and retrofit airplanes and make sure that the production line has those fixes in them,” he says. “And that drives complexity and cost.”

    The latest snafu occurred on Feb. 21, when a crack slightly longer than a half-inch was found in the turbine blade of a test F-35 based at Edwards Air Force Base in California, forcing a grounding of the entire fleet while other planes were examined. By late yesterday, no other cracks were found and the suspension was lifted.

    Kyra Hawn of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office said that the crack occurred in one of the first of the 17 test jets delivered that was used for the “rigorous testing of the (aircraft’s) operational envelope” — flown at high speeds and subjected to steep dives and sharp turns. It was also one of the planes with the highest number of flight hours, she said.

    According to a joint statement from the Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney, an examination showed the blade cracked due to exposure to “high levels of heat and other operational stressors on this specific engine” and that no engine redesign is required.

    F-35Douglas Birchhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/douglas-birchhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/01/12262/pentagon-criticizes-f-35-contractors-hands-over-dough

    0 0

    One of the reasons Americans are still confused about the Affordable Care Act is the ongoing misrepresentation of the law by members of Congress who voted against it.  This obfuscation isn’t confined to what the law actually does or doesn’t do, but also to what impact it might have on the federal deficit in years to come, as a vocal critic of the law demonstrated last week.

    Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, recently asked the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to look decades into the future and let him know if the reform law will cut the deficit over time,  as President Obama says it will.

    The GAO got back to Sessions last week with budgetary simulations showing that the ACA will indeed reduce the deficit if it’s implemented as Congress intended.

    Probably anticipating that answer, Sessions asked the GAO to do an alternative simulation showing what might happen if the law isn’t implemented as Congress intended. What would happen, in other words, if future lawmakers repeal all of the cost-saving and revenue-generating provisions of the law or phase them out?

    It doesn’t take an army of actuaries to figure out that if the parts of the law expanding coverage go forward, but the parts that pay for it or that reduce spending do not, Obamacare will add to the deficit.

    Within hours of getting the report, Sessions accused President Obama of misleading the country.  Obamacare, he said, will add a whopping $6.2 trillion to the deficit.

    What Sessions was doing was engaging in a practice common in politics and propaganda—“statisticulation.” If you haven’t come across that word before, check out How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff, a classic that’s as relevant today as it was when first published in 1954.

    “Misinforming people by the use of statistical material,” Huff wrote, “might be called statistical manipulation; in a word: statisticulation.”

    Statisticulation is an apt description of what the senator was doing with the GAO report. He was disclosing only the data that would support his assumptions. The truth is that it would take a scenario in which future Congresses repealed or phased out the deficit-reducing sections of the law—or all of them failed completely—for the $6.2 trillion addition to the deficit to be realized. And even if all that happened, that $6.2 trillion, which came from Sessions’ staffs’ calculations, not the GAO report, would be spread out over 75 years. That’s right. Three-quarters of a century.

    Sessions did not disclose the GAO simulation showing that Obamacare will lead to a decline in the deficit over the same time frame if it is implemented as Congress intended, with the cost-cutting and revenue-generating provisions intact.  

    The GAO report stated that, “The primary deficit declined 1.5 percentage points as a share of GDP over the 75-year period in this (GAO’s Baseline Extended) simulation.” But somehow those words didn’t make it into Sessions’s disclosure. He disclosed only the alternative simulation. And he made certain to disclose it several hours before the GAO made the report available to the press and the rest of the world.

    As a result, several reporters became accomplices, wittingly or unwittingly, to the Sessions nonsense.

    “Obamacare will increase the long-term federal deficit by $6.2 trillion, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today,” said the conservative National Review Online. No surprise there.

    But there was this from The Hill: “The Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican said a new government report shows that President Obama’s healthcare law will add $6.2 trillion to the deficit over the next 75 years.” The story quoted Sessions as saying that the report “reveals the dramatic falsehoods that were used to push [the bill] to passage.”

    It was not until the 5th paragraph that we learned that apparently no one at The Hill had seen the actual report yet: “’The GAO will release its report later Tuesday,’ according to Sessions’s staff.”

    Among the few in the media who cried foul was Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research and associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine. He wrote in a post on The Incidental Economist web site that Sessions’s selective disclosure represented “a worst-case-scenario” that would only come to pass “if (1) we left in all the spending, (2) all of the cost control measures utterly failed, and (3) we removed all of the revenue streams/taxes. If you do that, then the bill raises the deficit $6.2 trillion over 75 years.”

    Carroll noted, however, that it would take “an actual act of Congress” for that scenario to play out.

    “Many of the taxes and cost control measures will only go away if people like Sen. Sessions actually vote to strip them from the ACA,” he wrote. “We won’t see these worrisome results because of the law. We’ll see them if Congress changes it.”

    The GAO report noted that even under the most optimistic simulation, the country’s spending on health care is not sustainable over the long haul. More will have to be done in the future. But the ACA, if done right, is a start.

    Sen. Jeff Sessions points to a chart during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009. Wendell Potterhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/wendell-potterhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/04/12266/opinion-congress-lies-and-statistics

    0 0

    US Airways — in the midst of mergerproceedings with American Airlines — is blostering its already robust lobbying force with a pair of new government relations firms, documentsfiled with the U.S. Senate this weekend indicate.

    Joseph Gibson of The Gibson Group will handle one lobbying account, while Scott Reed of Chesapeake Enterprises will lead the other, according to US Airways' filings. Both contracts went into effect in mid-February, just days after the airlines announced the merger proposal.

    Gibson, for his part, brings extensive government experience to bear, having most notably served as chief minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's Office of Legislative Affairs and chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. His lobbying responsibilities include "issues relating to the proposed merger of US Airways and American Airlines," the filing states.

    Reed lists his lobbying duties as "House and Senate hearings; merger activities," according to his filing.

    During 2012, US Airways spent more money on federal-level lobbying activity, $2.83 million, than during any previous year, federal records show. 

    Such spending paid 31 lobbyists at four firms — Podesta Group, Cormac Group, Ogilvy Government Relations and Vandor Strategies — most of whom have previously worked for the government, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. US Airways, a representative for which could not be immediately reached for comment, also employed a pair of in-house lobbyists.

    The airline merger is widely expected to eventually take place, but must still be approved by both federal regulators and a federal bankruptcy judge, who is overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings of American Airlines' parent company, AMR Corp.

    Some lawmakers are also concerned that the airline merger will cause service cuts or price hikes at airports within their states and districts. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Anti-Trust Law conducted a merger hearing last week.

     

     

    American Airlines and USAirways jets park at gate at the Philadelphia International Airport, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Philadelphia.Dave Levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/dave-levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/04/12267/us-airways-strengthens-lobbying-force

    0 0

    In post-Newtown America, those with power say they must act to prevent another massacre of innocents.

    The Obama administration wants stiffer gun control, and $150 million to help schools hire up to 1,000 more on-campus police or counselors, or purchase security technology. State legislators are considering shifting millions of dollars around to help schools hire more police. Some locals aren’t waiting: The 5,500-resident town of Jordan, Minn., has moved its entire eight-officer police force into schools. 

    “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said after a young man shot his way into his former grammar school on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

    With the new year, the NRA has been flexing its political muscle, lobbying states not just to hire more school police — under the group’s National School Shield project — but also to pass laws allowing teachers or other staff to bring licensed guns to school to defend their students and themselves.  

    Beyond the headlines, though, the push for more cops or other armed security personnel in schools is running headlong into another movement that’s been quietly growing in states as diverse as Mississippi, New York, Utah, Texas and California.

    It’s a push to get police out of schools, or at least to end their involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers. 

    Civil-rights groups and juvenile court judges — and even some officials within the Obama administration — argue that because the ranks of police began growing in schools in the late 1990s, the criminal justice system’s  involvement in student discipline has gotten entirely out of hand in some communities. That has put students, especially ethnic minorities, on a path to failure, they say — the so-called school-to-prison pipeline.  

    In Los Angeles, for example, scores of students, most Latino or black and many just 11 or 12 years old, have been ticketed by school officers for minor infractions often categorized as disturbing the peace. In Austin, Texas, a 12-year-old was forced to court for spraying on perfume in class. In DeSoto County, Miss. officers and a school district were sued after a bus surveillance video — seen in part by a reporter— revealed officers unjustifiably arresting black students, the suit alleged, and threatening others with a “a bullet between the eyes.”

    Optimists — Education Secretary Arne Duncan among them — say cops in schools are not an either/or proposition: careful training, they say, will ensure that school police deployed in the wake of Newtown protect, rather than intimidate, students. 

    But many civil-rights advocates are worried. They say plenty of cities and states are only beginning to come to grips with allegations that schools, and school-based police, have unjustifiably sent students into the criminal-justice system.

    A push for security 

    Police presence in schools has been growing for years. The number of full-time city police officers assigned to schools increased nearly 40 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the U.S. Justice Department. One infamous incident fueling that rise was the 1999 massacre of 12 students and a teacher by two students at Columbine High School in suburban Denver.   

    After Newtown, though, an intense new round of calls for more cops in schools has echoed through small towns and big cities nationwide.

    The state legislative delegation of Broward County, Fla., for example, quickly approved a proposal in January — it must now be approved by state legislators — that could allow increases in property taxes in Broward to pay for more school police, at an annual cost of up to $130,000 per officer. 

    The National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan research group, told the Center for Public Integrity that in February it began tracking a flurry of school-security legislation in more than 20 states.

    Since January, two school-security bills in Mississippi, publicly backed by NRA representatives, have been moving fast through the Statehouse.

    One bill would set up a $7.5 million school-security fund to offer Mississippi schools $10,000 matching grants to hire police. The other bill, which Mississippi’s House of Representatives approved  Feb. 13, would allow districts to designate teachers or other school staff to act as a secret defense force in the event of an attack. Volunteers would take their own licensed, concealed weapons to school. The House rejected a proposal to require psychological evaluations of those designated by districts.  

    Alabama legislators are considering creating a lottery to pay for a $20 million plan to put police officers in every school. Indiana lawmakers are weighing a proposal to set aside $10 million to offer grants to schools to hire local police to post in schools. States where legislators have introduced proposals to allow designated teachers or other school staff to be armed include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Texas and Utah already allow licensed gun owners to take weapons onto campuses under certain circumstances. Legislators in those states are discussing ideas for supporting school staff who want to have weapons at school for defense.

    The NRA isn’t alone in trying to influence the debate. The Alabama-based National Association of School Resource Officers, or NASRO, is pushing for more law enforcement in schools. NASRO opposes arming teachers.  

    Stung by criticism of resource officers, the nonprofit NASRO vigorously disputes the idea that a school-to-prison pipeline is pervasive. In To Protect and Educate, a report issued last October, NASRO said: “Attacks against the school resource officer are superficial and polemical.”

    On a Facebook page, NASRO has posted multiple news reports about school resource officers foiling violent acts by students.

    Kevin Quinn, NASRO president, said in an interview that NASRO regards cases of abuses by school police to be isolated. “The No. 1 way to combat that is training,” said Quinn, a school resource officer in the Phoenix area.

    Quinn agreed with civil rights advocates that some school districts have become too reliant on police to enforce discipline. Over the last decade, more schools have adopted “zero tolerance” polices, not just for guns or other weapons or drugs, but for behavior that’s seen as disorderly or defiant.

    “The problem,” Quinn said, “is the school at times says, ‘Oh, we’ve got a cop. Let him take care of things.’ ”

    Out of hand?

    Chief Juvenile Court Judge Steven Teske, of Clayton County, Ga., is not against police in schools, but firmly believes that a school-to-prison pipeline exists.

    When Teske took the bench in 1999 in his Atlanta suburb, which is 66 percent black, one-third of the cases in his court were kids referred from schools. By 2004, he said, 92 percent of the 1,400 cases in his court came from schools, mostly for alleged disruption and disorderly conduct.

    Lt. Francisco Romero, Clayton’s school resource officer at the time, told the Center for Public Integrity that he was disturbed to discover that one year he arrested more people — students — than any other officer in Clayton. 

    Fed up, Teske called together school and police leaders and hammered out a protocol requiring counseling and clear warnings before students were sent to court. Teske credits the protocol with improving relationships between students and police, and driving down juvenile felonies by 51 percent and increasing graduation rates by 24 percent.

    “If police are placed on campus without written protocols defining their role, the results will be disastrous — just as removing existing police from campus can have unintended consequences,” Teske wrote in the publication Youth Today after the Newtown killings.

    Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a national civil-rights group urging discipline reforms, said that after the 1999 Columbine shootings, police citations of students in the city of Denver skyrocketed. Student referrals to police increased by 71 percent between 2000 and 2004. Only 7 percent of referrals to law enforcement from Denver’s schools, whose students are mostly nonwhite, were for serious offenses such as carrying a weapon.

    In February, Denver school and police officials signed an agreement that obliges school police to “de-escalate” conflicts, attend training sessions on child psychology and embrace “restorative justice,” which requires students to sit down and resolve problems outside the criminal court system.

    Dianis, whose group collaborated on the Denver agreement, hopes Denver’s decision influences other jurisdictions as they weigh putting more police in schools.

    In Los Angeles— home to the country’s largest school police force — school leaders, judges, police and civil-rights activists have been holding a series of meetings to work toward a protocol for student citations and arrests.

    The Center for Public Integrity analyzed Los Angeles Unified School District Police records and found that from 2009 through 2011, officers issued about 10,000 tickets a year to students, mostly in low-income neighborhoods.

    More than 40 percent of citations, the Center also found, went to students 14 or younger in schools that parents said were more heavily policed. Juvenile court judges complained about a parade of children in court for infractions better dealt with at school.

    Reconciling such findings with current security concerns is difficult, concedes Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program. Parker said it sounds “callous” to protest placing more police in schools after Newtown, a town that immediately after the December massacre assigned officers to guard schools.

    “It’s very likely that officers dealing with children in Newtown will deal with them differently than children in Harlem.”

    But one of the ACLU’s high-profile lawsuits involving schools right now accuses New York City police — whose ranks have grown in schools by 73 percent since 1998 — of violating students’ rights by using excessive force, handcuffing and arrests in response to infractions such as drawing on a desk.

    “It’s very likely that officers dealing with children in Newtown will deal with them differently than children in Harlem,” Parker said. “It is likely to be more of an ‘Officer Joe, your friend,’ who is there than someone who tells you to stand up against a wall and spread your legs.”

    New York City police administrators insist that officers have lowered crime in schools and say that the ACLU “talks about arrests in schools but, conveniently, not crimes.” 

    On Dec. 13, the day before the Newtown killings, Parker’s Racial Justice Program filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of ethnic-minority students allegedly rounded up by police in December 2010 at West High School in Salt Lake City.

    The ACLU suit says that plaintiff Kevin Winston’s son, Kaleb, was 14 when two plainclothes officers ushered the student, who is half-black, into a room and falsely accused him of gang membership and graffiti, or “tagging.”

    An officer allegedly grabbed Kaleb’s arm, told him, “quit acting tough,” and searched his backpack. The suit says that officers forced Kaleb, who has no juvenile record, to pose for a photo — to put in a gang database — holding a sign with his name and the word “tagger” on it.

    After he was released, the suit says, Kaleb was shaken, called his parents and asked to go home. The suit says that when Lisa Winston, his mother, protested what had happened officers told her the sweep was done because of “a problem with the Mexicans.”

    On March 1, the Salt lake defendants filed a court document admitting that police had entered the school and questioned students. But in the documents, they deny that they "acted unconstitutionally" and deny that they referred to a problem with Mexicans.

    In February, a similar suit filed by the ACLU of Southern California in 2011 was partially settled on behalf of 56 students at Hoover High School in Glendale, Calif., near Los Angeles.

    The suit says that school administrators and Glendale police interrogated Latino and other minority students, and made them pose for mock mug shots.

    Glendale police Sgt. Thomas Lorenz told the Associated Press that the actions were an attempt to educate students on the peril of gangs. He denied that officers’ methods amounted to racial profiling.

    “I’ve never been in trouble, and it was confusing, terrifying and humiliating,” Ashley Flores, who was 16 when the incident happened.

    The settlement requires Glendale police and school officials to notify parents if students are to be questioned on campus. To ensure that officers uphold students’ rights, they will be trained to avoid racial profiling.

    Walking the line

    Michael Nash, presiding juvenile court judge in Los Angeles County, said in an interview that it’s hard to argue against placing police in schools — if they stay out of discipline matters.

    As president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Nash sent a strongly worded letter to the Obama administration on Jan. 15, responding to the administration’s call for ideas on school safety.

    “Research shows that aggressive security measures produce alienation and mistrust among students, which, in turn, can disrupt the learning environment,” the letter said. “Such restrictive environments may actually lead to violence, thus jeopardizing, instead of promoting, school safety.”

    A student’s odds of dropping out of high school quadruple with a first-time court appearance, Nash wrote. Last summer, the judges’ council began a national campaign “to support school engagement and reduce school expulsion.” Putting more armed personnel into schools, Nash said, could prove “counterproductive” to this effort.   

    On Jan. 16, the White House announced it would seek congressional authorization for a $385 million school violence prevention package for fiscal year 2014.

    A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the president’s proposals would go to appropriate committees. A Washington Post poll in January suggested that the recommendation for hiring more school police would face little opposition. The poll found that 55 percent of the public would even support a law to put an armed guard in every school.

    A centerpiece of the White House proposal is the request for $150 million to help schools hire up to 1,000 new police. But in nod to concerns like Nash’s, schools could also use grants to hire counselors and school psychologists.

    The administration also proposes $50 million to help 8,000 schools create safer and more “nurturing” atmospheres at schools. Another $25 million would be used to help schools struggling with “pervasive violence,” and $30 million would be for one-time grants for states to help schools develop emergency plans.

    A total of $130 million would be for helping schools adopt conflict-resolution programs and improving early detection of student mental health problems.  

    In a January media call, Education secretary Duncan was asked to respond to concerns that more police would lead to misguided crackdowns on students.

    “There’s no reason why additional school resources have to drive up the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline,” Duncan said. “Execution is really important — taking time train people in a really thoughtful way.” The Department of Justice, he said, will be in on that training.

    Duncan is no stranger to controversy over school discipline.

    Between 2009 and 2012, the Department of Education launched more than 20 investigations into allegations in school districts that minority students were punished more harshly than white pupils for the same violations of school rules. Duncan’s department aims to amicably reach agreements with districts to change discipline practices. Last year, the department also released an unprecedented analysis of national school data showing that black students, 18 percent of the sample, represented 42 percent of students referred to law enforcement.

    These issues have been aired in two Congressional hearings since December.   

    In a February appearance before the House Education and the Workforce Committee, NASRO’s executive director, Mo Canady said the role of school resource officers is as “a trusted adult that a student can come to for information, for guidance.” He also said officers should leave “formal discipline” to educators.  

    Searching for balance

    In Texas, police involvement in routine school discipline is a hot topic.

    On Feb. 20, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Youth Law Center filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The complaint is based on citation records showing that black students in the Bryan Independent School District, 100 miles north of Houston, are given municipal court summonses in numbers far greater than the proportion of school enrollment they represent. 

    Black students represent almost 22 percent of the 15,500-pupil Bryan district but were given more than half of all Class C misdemeanor tickets issued to students for “disruption of class” and “disorderly conduct,” according to the complaint. The complaint also says that staff of Texas Appleseed, a public-interest law group, observed Bryan students in court, including a 13-year-old whose teacher overheard him use profanity before class started and sent him to the principal, who, in turn, asked an officer to issue a ticket.

    In a statement, the Bryan district said it would welcome “a dialogue” with federal education investigators. The citation numbers alleged in the complaint “were certainly no surprise to us, and we have been proactive in taking measures to address the issue,” the district said. “We hope the measures we are taking to support our minority students will result in a more positive outcome.”

    Texas state Democratic Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, says it’s time to stop these tickets, which can cost families hundreds of dollars and end up creating a criminal record for the student.    

    He said legislators will have to search for a balance between security and smart use of school police. The Houston Democrat hopes to pass a bill this year to stop ticketing for basic misbehavior, and require alternatives for students before schools send them to court.

    It used to be a “comforting” to see a police officer at school, Whitmire said. Then cash-strapped schools shed counselors, police stepped in as enforcers, and Texas courts, he said, began to expect revenue from student tickets.

    “These police departments have grown and grown, and they have to justify their budgets,” Whitmire added. “They’ve even asked for legislation to be able to go [do enforcement] outside schools.”

    But in response to Newtown, Whitmire is co-sponsoring another proposal with state Sen. Tommy Williams, a Republican from The Woodlands, to allow districts to try to raise taxes or other revenue to hire more school police or buy security technology.

    He’d prefer adding police to arming teachers, Whitmire said, but he’ll “make damn sure,” he said, that more police doesn’t lead to more tickets.  

     Mississippi state Democratic Rep. John Hines Sr. is concerned about safety, too. But he’s also trying to get fellow legislators more interested in allegations of a school-to-prison pipeline in his state.

    In January, Hines, who chairs the House Youth and Family Affairs Committee, held a state public hearing to discuss the “Handcuffs on Success” report issued that month by the Advancement Project, the ACLU of Mississippi, the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse.

     “I want kids safe. I don’t want people coming off the street or an enraged child shooting people. But I don’t want lots of people all strapped up with guns at our schools either.”

    The report notes that the Jackson Public Schools District was sued in 2011 in connection to allegations that its students were handcuffed to railings for dress-code violations or refusing to do their schoolwork. The district settled the suit last May with an agreement to stop handcuffing children younger than 13, and to only handcuff older students when they are accused of a crime. A review of Jackson police records shows, according to “Handcuffs on Success,” that 96 percent of student arrests at schools in 2010-11 were for misdemeanors, most for disorderly conduct. Only 4 percent were for suspected felonies.

    Hines said he’s also troubled by a lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed last October against Meridian, Miss, alleging that students there “are regularly and repeatedly handcuffed and arrested in school and incarcerated for days at a time without a probable cause hearing.” 

     “I want kids safe,” Hines said. “I don’t want people coming off the street or an enraged child shooting people. But I don’t want lots of people all strapped up with guns at our schools either.”

    Republican Lester “Bubba” Carpenter, who also serves in Mississippi’s House, is sponsoring the proposal to allow districts to designate teachers or employees as a secret “marshals” with permission to bring their own licensed, concealed weapons to school.

    Mississippi is a “pretty poor state,” Carpenter said, so the idea is cost-effective. He’s not worried that teachers will panic and shoot in haste.

    “I think they’re smart enough individuals,” Carpenter said. “We trust them with our children every day.”

    But Carpenter also supports the proposal to set aside $7.5 million so that schools can apply for $10,000 matching grants to hire police officers.

    “I’ll vote for both of them,” Carpenter said of the proposals. “You can’t get enough security at schools.”

    Carpenter said he wasn’t that familiar with the allegations of police excesses alleged in the ACLU and U.S Justice Department lawsuits, or the “Handcuffs on Success” report.

     “You’re always going to have a bad apple,” he said.

    Police officer Jeff Strack walks the hallway as children watch him at Jordan Elementary School in Jordan, Minn. In what is believed to be the first of its kind nationwide, the small city south of Minneapolis is taking school security to a new level by setting up satellite offices inside the public school buildings.Susan Ferrisshttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/susan-ferrisshttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/05/12269/controversy-over-cops-schools-flares-anew

    0 0

    Hunting animals at outdoorsy fundraisers earns politicians big bucks these days, as duckgeesequaildoveturkeypheasantalligator and antelope have all died in the name of helping re-elect both Democrats and Republicans. 

    But ahead of what's almost certain in 2014 to be the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history, Rep. Joe Pitts, for one, is taking a decidedly more genteel approach to amassing cash.

    For a $5,000 host-level donation, or $2,000 if you represent a political action committee, the conservative Pennsylvania Republican will bathe your palatte in vino while wooing your inner O'Keeffe.

    "We provide pinot and everything you will need to paint!" an event invitation obtained by the Center for Public Integrity reads, noting in a rainbow of colors that the April 15 fundraiser is entitled "Sip & Paint."

    It continues: "Then sit and watch as Congressman Pitts guides you step by step to create your very own masterpiece!"

    Without question, Pitts is deft with a brush and chisel.

    Samples of his artwork, which include attractive portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, are proudly displayed on his congressional webpage. He's the author and illustrator of a children's book, How Stubby Lost His Tail, among other titles. He headlines community art shows and contests.

    Pitts hasn't faced strong competition in recent re-election campaigns, although he won less than 55 percent of the vote in a four-way race last autumn.

    Percentage-wise, that's his least impressive showing in more than a decade.

    And the $184,000 in his campaign kitty as of Dec. 31, according to Federal Election Commission records, is hardly an overwhelming amount considering the average House candidate running for re-election last cycle raised about $1.75 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    So while you shouldn't expect Pitts to shoot a goose for a buck, don't be shocked if he shows you the one he's carved out of wood when collecting contribution checks.

     

     

    Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., holds a bust of Abraham Lincoln in his Capitol Hill Office.Dave Levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/dave-levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/05/12273/joe-pitts-takes-genteel-route-political-riches

    0 0

    The Republican-controlled Florida Senate unanimously passed a landmark ethics reform package on Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session, setting the stage for what could be the first major changes to the state’s ethics laws in decades.

    The bills would strengthen provisions that prevent lawmakers from immediately becoming lobbyists, expand the powers of the state’s ethics commission and require that financial disclosure reports be posted online.

    "Public office is a public trust," Senate President Don Gaetz said in hailing the 40-0 vote. "This legislation means the Florida Senate is serious about ethics reform. Higher ethical standards is just one more difference between Florida senators and Washington senators."

    But the measures also contain several changes that critics say would actually weaken existing laws.

    “I think it would be a step forward in some ways but several steps backward in others,” said Philip Claypool, a lawyer who served as executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics until retiring in 2011. “The net effect I don’t think would be progress.”

    While the legislation allows lawmakers to place investments in a blind trust in an effort to prevent conflicts of interest, for example, it leaves out several safeguards contained in similar laws in other states and at the federal level, Claypool said.

    The bills would also allow lawmakers who have filed erroneous or incomplete financial disclosure reports to correct the forms before the ethics commission can investigate, in essence preventing the body from fining officials for their transgressions.

    “Basically, they can get away with paying even less attention to the accuracy of a report,” Claypool said.

    Gaetz spokeswoman Katie Betta disputed the characterization that the bills loosen existing law. She said the legislation would strengthen the ethics commission by allowing it to receive referrals from other state agencies.

    Currently, the commission can initiate an investigation only after receiving a sworn complaint.

    Both Gaetz and Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford, both new to their leadership posts, have said that passing ethics reform is a top priority. The state received an overall grade of C- from the State Integrity Investigation, a state-by-state ranking of ethics and accountability released last year by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

    House and Senate leaders do not agree on all the details of the bills.

    While the Senate bill restricts how lawmakers can spend money from a type of campaign fund that legislators now use to solicit unlimited donations, legislation in the House would eliminate the committees altogether.

    The House bill would also raise direct campaign contribution limits from $500 to $10,000 per person, a figure that Gaetz has said is too high. Ryan Duffy, a Weatherford spokesman, said he expects the House to begin work soon and to adopt a measure similar to the Senate package.

    Dan Krassner, executive director of the watchdog group Integrity Florida, called the new legislation, “a mixed bag.” The Senate rushed the package through committees in an effort to pass it on the first day of the session, he said, but he’s hopeful the House may correct some of the problems identified by Claypool.

    “Now that the bill is through the Senate it’s time for the House to remove provisions that protect officials who want to break ethics laws,” he said, “and instead ensure the bill protects the public.”

    The Florida Capitol building in TallahasseeNicholas Kusnetzhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/nicholas-kusnetzhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/06/12275/florida-senate-passes-sweeping-ethics-reform-package

    0 0

    An upstart data transparency group run by a former congressional counsel has registered its first lobbyist, new U.S. Senate filings show.

    Hudson Hollister, a Republican who until last year served as counsel to the U.S. House's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will lobby on behalf of the Data Transparency Coalition, which wants the federal government to institute "greater efficiency and better transparency by deploying consistent data standards."

    Hollister is also founder and executive director of the nonprofit coalition.

    The Data Transparency Coalition, whose members include firms such as Teredata, SAP, Adaptive and Level One Technologies, will in part push for passage of a revamped version of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, which died during the last congressional session.  

    The group's other lobbying priorities include pressing government agencies to adopt standard data formats so that data is more easily searchable, sortable and downloadable, Hollister said.

    It will likewise advocate to make federal court documents, typically available for a charge through the government's PACER system, free to the public, he said.

    "There's nobody else in the tech industry really advocating for this, and this is not going to happen if Congress doesn't hear from the tech industry," Hollister said.

    Hollister's registration is effective as of Jan. 28, as organizations that lobby have 45 days after first making contact with government officials to file paperwork.

     

     

    Dave Levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/dave-levinthalhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/06/12277/data-transparency-advocates-register-lobbyist

    0 0

    Until the "snowquester" winter storm hit Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama was scheduled to honor the University of Alabama's championship football team at the White House today.

    While Crimson Tide athletes were planning on making a special trip to the nation's capital for the event, the University of Alabama also maintains a full-time presence in Washington.

    In fact, the University of Alabama spent $370,000 on lobbying in 2012, according to congressional records, and it hired five lobbyists from the elite firm Van Scoyoc Associates, which is one of the nation's top lobby shops in terms of revenue, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Who are the Crimson Tide's lobbyists? H. Stewart Van Scoyoc, the firm's president and chief executive officer, as well as Michael Adcock, Madeline Barter, Ray Cole and Alice Dodd.

    Records indicate that they actively lobbied the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in 2012 on the University of Alabama's behalf.

    Among their lobbying targets: Sequestration-related legislation, several appropriations bills, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill recovery, legislation and regulations related to organ transplant issues, funding for Department of Defense medical research programs and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

    The soon-to-be-defunct Bowl Championship Series itself also maintained a lobbying force in Washington in 2012.

    Congressional records indicate that the BCS last year spent $270,000 on federal lobbying and retained the services of both Hogan Lovells and J.C. Watts Compannies, the firm headed by the former Oklahoma Republican congressman who played quarterback for the University of Oklahoma and then professionally in the Canadian Football League.

    Administration officials said the Crimson Tide's White House visit will be rescheduled for a future date.

     

     

    Alabama players celebrate after the BCS National Championship college football game against Notre Dame Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. Alabama won 42-14.Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/06/12250/university-alabama-plays-politics-well-football

    0 0

    It is always gratifying when the Center for Public Integrity’s investigative projects have a major impact AND win major award recognition.  That’s been happening a lot lately.

    Most recently, our State Integrity Investigation—a corruption risk index for all 50 states—was named a finalist for the distinguished Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. This massive project has contributed to ethics reform efforts in 16 states so far, with more coming during this year’s legislative sessions.

    The Goldsmith judges described the State Integrity project as "a wonderful blueprint for reporters all over the country to do enterprising stories on government." Produced in collaboration with Global Integrity and Public Radio International, this work has been written about in 1,500 other publications and been cited in more than 75 editorials. According to the Goldsmith Prize judges, the results of the State Integrity Investigation “include accelerated reform in government and an increase in disclosure requirements in many states.”

    Meanwhile, the Center’s on-going Medicare project, “Cracking the Codes”, has just been recognized by Investigative Reporters and Editors with the singular 2012 Phillip Meyer Award for Precision Journalism. Phil Meyer is considered the godfather of Computer Assisted Reporting, or CAR. Our 21-month investigation examining nearly two terabytes of data unveiled for the first time how some medical professionals have billed Medicare at sharply higher rates and collected $11 billion in additional, questionable fees as a result. In the week after publication, the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services  issued new warnings to the medical profession and launched new federal investigations.

    I could go on to discuss two new awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers who have recognized the Center for Public Integrity as double winners of its 18th Best in Business competition, which honors excellence in business journalism across all news platforms. Their recognition went to “Skin & Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Parts” and “Fraud and Folly: The Untold Story of General Electric’s Subprime Debacle” which is part of our series on the Great Mortgage Cover-Up.

    But you get the idea. Congratulations to all the Center reporters and editors engaged in this award-winning work.

    Until Next Week,

     

    Bill 


    0 0

    As former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush promotes his new book about immigration, some politicos are suggesting the notable Republican’s education reform-oriented nonprofit group is what’s truly worth watching, as it could serve as an early springboard toward a 2016 presidential bid.

    Undoubtedly, the coffers of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education — which favors reforms such as ending tenure for teachers, increasing school choice and expanding digital learning — have swelled in recent years, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

    Bush launched the Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2007. That year, it raised about $244,000, according to an annual report it filed with the Internal Revenue Service. By 2009, its revenue grew to $2.8 million. And in 2011, the most recent year for which records are available, it hauled in nearly $8.5 million.

    The Foundation for Excellence in Education’s mission is to “ignite a movement of reform to transform American education.” It touts itself as a “hands-on, how-to organization that provides model legislation, rule-making expertise, implementation strategies and public outreach,” according to its website. It has also hosted conferences for legislators and state officials.

    Records indicate that its donors include an array of conservative-leaning foundations and supporters of charter schools.

    According to the Foundation Center, the following organizations supported Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education in 2011:

    • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $1 million
    • The Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, $500,000
    • The Robertson Foundation, $500,000
    • The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, $290,000
    • The Carnegie Corporation of New York, $150,000, specifically for a “multi-year initiative to transform education using technology” *
    • The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, $50,000
    • The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, $25,000
    • The Hertog Foundation, $25,000
    • The Cobb Family Foundation, $15,000

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major supporter of charter schools. During Washington state’s 2012 ballot measure fight to expand public charter schools, Bill and Melinda Gates personally gave $3.15 million to the committee pushing for the proposal, records show.

    The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has also been a major financial backer of education reformers. Michael Grebe, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer, also sits on the board of the Colorado-based Charter School Growth Fund.

    So, too, has the Robertson Foundation, which was established by hedge fund pioneer Julian Robertson, who personally donated $2.25 million to Restore Our Future, the main super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential run, during the 2012 election cycle. His son Spencer Robertson runs a charter school in New York City.

    2011 was not only the Bush’s nonprofit biggest financial year on record, but it also marked the group’s first reported foray into lobbying. It told the IRS it spent $2,000 on lobbying in 2011.

    The Foundation for Excellence in Education’s lawmaker-focused conferences have recently drawn scrutiny, and the lobbying firm headed by the group’s executive director withdraw its official registration earlier this week, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting noted.

    When asked by CBS about a potential presidential run earlier this week, Bush said that he is “not ruling it out," adding that he’s “decided not to think about it for a while.”

    If Bush was to seek the presidency, he could not transfer money raised through his nonprofit to any political committee he formed. But big-dollar donors cultivated through his nonprofit could separately be tapped as contributors or fundraisers.

    Recent presidential candidates including Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum operated nonprofit organizations prior to launching their campaigns.

    Paul Abowd contributed to this report.

    * The Carnegie Corporation of New York is a past funder of the Center for Public Integrity and has provided general support and some additional project funding for the Center’s journalistic work.

     

     

    Former Florida Gov. JebBush, right, speaks to reporters after an education rally at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/07/12284/jeb-bushs-education-nonprofit-rakes-cash

    0 0

    President Barack Obama prides himself on rejecting donations from registered lobbyists, but a newly released list of campaign fundraisers is peppered with leaders from companies and law firms that lobby the federal government.

    New bundlers, whose names were released this week, include Anthony Welters, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, and Qualcomm co-founder and former chairman Irwin Jacobs and his wife Joan.

    Each raised at least $500,000 for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that includes Obama’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and party committees in several battleground states.

    The exact amounts are unknown. The campaign only divulges bundlers’ fundraising activity in broad ranges, with a top category of “more than $500,000.”

    Qualcomm has spent at least $6 million each year since 2007 on federally reportable lobbying efforts, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. UnitedHealth spent at least $2.5 million annually in the same period.

    None of these individuals were bundlers for Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. However, Welters’ wife, Beatrice, raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    Bundlers are elite political fundraisers who turn to relatives, friends and business associates to raise large sums and deliver the funds in a “bundle” to the candidate. They are often given perks and special access — both on the campaign trail and once politicians are elected.

    Beatrice Welters was one of about two dozen bundlers who were named ambassadors during the president’s first term. Welters was appointed to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, a post from which she resigned last November.

    There’s nothing illegal about registered lobbyists contributing to a presidential campaign, as long as those donations are reported. But Obama’s campaign went further and voluntarily rejected such contributions. Still, some of his bundlers lead or work for law firms that also provide government lobbying services, although they are not lobbyists themselves.

    Other newly disclosed bundlers include:

    • Andy Sandler, the chairman and executive partner at BuckleySandler, which provides legal counsel and lobbying services for the financial services industry. He bundled between $50,000 and $100,000. Records indicate that his firm’s several recent lobbying clients have included the California-based East West Bank, Virginia-based Genworth Financial and the Electronic Signature and Records Association.
       
    • Walter White, a London-based partner at the multinational legal powerhouse McGuireWoods, who bundled between $50,000 and $100,000. White is the head of McGuireWoods’ emerging markets transactions practice, according to his official bio. McGuireWoods’ current lobbying clients in the United States include Alpha Natural Resources, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), according to federal records.
       
    • Jim Black, a Germany-based partner at the law firm White & Case, who bundled between $100,000 and $200,000. Black specializes in equity capital markets and mergers and acquisitions, according to his official company bio. Domestically, White & Case’s several lobbying clients include the National Association of Publicly Traded Partnerships.
       
    • Rick Mayo-Smith, the managing director of Indochina Land, who bundled between $100,000 and $200,000. Indochina Land is the real estate division of Indochina Capital Corp., one of Vietnam's leading financial services groups.

    The White House directed inquiries to Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign and Obama’s new nonprofit advocacy group, Organizing for Action. Hogan did not respond to requests for comment.

    Overall, the Obama campaign reaped financial riches from 769 bundlers, who collectively raised more than $186 million. Twenty-eight of these bundlers moved into higher dollar categories during the fourth quarter of 2012, the new disclosure reveals.

    Another newly listed Obama campaign bundler is Imad Husain, Obama's freshman-year roommate at Occidental College, who is now a banker in Boston. Husain raised between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the campaign.

    Hollywood is also represented among Obama’s newly identified top fundraisers, with super couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith collecting more than $500,000. While hardly a professional lobbyist, Pinkett Smith last year pressed lawmakers to take a stand against human trafficking and forced labor, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations with her husband present.

    They join the ranks of previously identified bundlers such as pop star Gwen Stefani and Warner Brothers CEO and Chairman Barry Meyer.

    Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign did not volunteer bundler information, releasing only the names of registered federal lobbyists who bundled, as federal law compelled it to do. Nearly six dozen lobbyists collectively raised more than $17 million for the Republican’s unsuccessful presidential bid, as the Center for Public Integrity previously reported.

    While Obama is safely in the White House for another four years, his chase for cash may not be over.

    These elite moneymen and women could be tapped to fundraise for Obama’s presidential library, and are already being pursued by Organizing for Action, which is promoting the president’s legislative agenda over the next four years.

    Organizing for Action will host a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., next week where a minimum contribution of $50,000 is required to attend, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Timesreported Monday.

    Obama’s nonprofit group will, on a quarterly basis, voluntarily disclose the names and donation amounts of contributors giving $250 or more, Organizing for America National Chairman Jim Messina wrote Thursday in an opinion piece posted on CNN.com.

    The group, to date, has not revealed any donors.

     

     

    President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/08/12279/obama-bundlers-closely-tied-influence-industry

    0 0

    What do actor Will Smith, UnitedHealth Group Executive Vice President Anthony Welters and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs have in common?

    All were recently identified as bundlers by the Obama campaign, raising at least $500,000 for the Obama Victory Fund.

    In fact, 11 new bundlers were added to the campaign's list of "volunteer fundraisers" this week.

    A new analysis from the Center for Public Integrity examines the new rainmakers, many of whom have close connections to the influence industry, despite the fact that President Barack Obama prides himself on rejecting campaign contributions from registered lobbyists.

    Overall, 769 bundlers collectively raised more than $186 million for the victory fund, a joint fundraising committee that benefited Obama's presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties in several battleground states.

    Read the Center's full analysis here.

     

     

    President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013.Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/08/12280/obama-campaign-identifies-11-new-bundlers

    0 0

    It is always gratifying when the Center for Public Integrity’s investigative projects have a major impact AND win major award recognition.  That’s been happening a lot lately.

    Most recently, our State Integrity Investigation—a corruption risk index for all 50 states—was named a finalist for the distinguished Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. This massive project has contributed to ethics reform efforts in 16 states so far, with more coming during this year’s legislative sessions.

    The Goldsmith judges described the State Integrity project as "a wonderful blueprint for reporters all over the country to do enterprising stories on government." Produced in collaboration with Global Integrity and Public Radio International, this work has been written about in 1,500 other publications and been cited in more than 75 editorials. According to the Goldsmith Prize judges, the results of the State Integrity Investigation “include accelerated reform in government and an increase in disclosure requirements in many states.”

    Meanwhile, the Center’s on-going Medicare project, “Cracking the Codes”, has just been recognized by Investigative Reporters and Editors with the singular 2012 Phillip Meyer Award for Precision Journalism. Phil Meyer is considered the godfather of Computer Assisted Reporting, or CAR. Our 21-month investigation examining nearly two terabytes of data unveiled for the first time how some medical professionals have billed Medicare at sharply higher rates and collected $11 billion in additional, questionable fees as a result. In the week after publication, the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services  issued new warnings to the medical profession and launched new federal investigations.

    I could go on to discuss two new awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers who have recognized the Center for Public Integrity as double winners of its 18th Best in Business competition, which honors excellence in business journalism across all news platforms. Their recognition went to “Skin & Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Parts” and “Fraud and Folly: The Untold Story of General Electric’s Subprime Debacle” which is part of our series on the Great Mortgage Cover-Up.

    But you get the idea. Congratulations to all the Center reporters and editors engaged in this award-winning work.

    Until Next Week,

    Bill Buzenberg
    Executive Director


    0 0

    Political prognosticator Charlie Cook ranks Illinois' 17th Congressional District assolidly Democratic ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, but that's not keeping Democratic freshman Rep. Cheri Bustos and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from taking any chances.

    Bustos, who defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling in November, was one of 26 Democratic House members named to the DCCC's "Frontline" program earlier this week, a partnership designed to boost politicians' fundraising and electoral prospects. (The National Republican Congressional Committee operates a similar program for its members.)

    Naming Bustos to the Frontline program is a doubling down on the investment the DCCC has already made in her: Ahead of Election Day 2012, the DCCC spent about $2.9 million on political ads trashing Schilling — ads legally known as "independent expenditures" because they were not coordinated with Bustos' campaign. 

    That was more money than the committee spent on independent expenditures in any other House race, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

    Bustos is hardly alone among the newly named Frontline participants in terms of past DCCC air support.

    All 26 newly named Frontline participants had DCCC-sponsored ads produced on their behalf in 2012, according to the Center for Public Integrity's analysis. And their races accounted for nearly half of the more than $60 million the DCCC spent on independent expenditures during the 2012 election cycle.

    Last year, the DCCC made at least $2 million worth of independent expenditures in the races of several Democrats who are part of the 2014 Frontline program, including:

    • Bill Enyart of Illinois
    • Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona
    • Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire
    • Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire
    • Scott Peters of California
    • Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

    These House races are again expected to be some of the most competitive electoral contests.

    For her part, Bustos' campaign ended 2012 with just $25,000 in the bank and $11,500 in debt, records show, after raising and spending about $2.2 million to unseat Schilling.

    Emily Bittner, the DCCC's national press secretary, said her organization was backing Bustos because she is "committed to fighting for the middle class" and "focused on getting results for the people of Illinois."

    "We are confident voters will re-elect her,” Bittner added.

    A spokesman for Bustos did not respond to requests for comment.

    In 2014, Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats to wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives from Republicans.

    Democratic super PACs are also readying to assist in what most observers say will be an extremely difficult challenge.

     

     

    Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.Michael Beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/authors/michael-beckelhttp://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/08/12286/dcccs-most-vulnerable-house-members-reaped-millions-2012

older | 1 | .... | 53 | 54 | (Page 55) | 56 | 57 | .... | 165 | newer